Through the use of portraiture and created mixed media objects, Asha Elana Casey in the words of Ntozake Shange, seeks to “find God in herself and love her fiercely”, while showing the ways in which our ancestors sought out God before and beyond colonization. Her work presents some of the narratives present in stories about the Abosom, Ancestors, Orishas, and Saints through her lens and vessel. She begins her series with Eleggua and slowly introduces the other deities. She situates them in one energetic center to speak to the aspects of her West African culture lost to the slave trade. The figure’s face is painted in black and white to symbolize enlightenment and how spirit walks with our highest self. However, flesh depiction may change based on the spiritual tradition. The bodies of the deities are adorned in intricate patterns reminiscent of mandalas or sacred geometry to exemplify their place in the universe. The work explores similarities and differences across the diasporic traditions. Many of the recognizable symbols stem from religious iconography from the Yoruba/Ifa, Akan, Santeria, Hoodoo (Conjure/Rootwork), and Catholic traditions.
Modern symbols ever present in her work is the adornment of teeth (grillz) to symbolize monetary power, acrylic nails to accent one of the many self-care practices of Black women, and postures of power exemplified in the culture of American Black people.
Asha Elana Casey (born April 30, 1994) is a contemporary painter and mixed media artist. She began her artistic training at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. Casey is a graduate of the Corcoran School of Art and Design at George Washington University and an Anderson’s Ranch residency recipient. She currently lives and works in DC.